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Honoring Inyo’s behind-the-scenes lifesavers

April 10, 2012

Bishop Police Dispatcher Clancy Batchelder, on the job Monday. This week, local law enforcement officials are honoring their behind-the-scenes support: the dispatchers who field their calls and provide them with the information to respond quickly and effectively to any emergency. Photo by Mike Gervais

Local leaders in the law enforcement community are taking time this week to recognize and thank their support staff who don’t always wear a badge or drive a squad car, but are none-the-less instrumental in serving and protecting the communities of the Eastern Sierra.
Each year, the second week in April is dedicated to the men and women who serve as public safety dispatchers.
Locally there are four dispatch centers: the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office, Bishop Police Department, CHP and the Owens Valley Interagency Dispatch.
Virtually every emergency call for medical, law enforcement or fire aid is filtered through the men and women in dispatch, who are trained to remain calm and help callers remain calm in many different situations while gathering the information necessary to give first responders the details they need to act quickly and safely in any emergency situation.
“I’m very proud of our public safety dispatchers,” Sheriff Bill Lutze said. “They are the first to receive an emergency call for assistance and perform a very difficult job with professionalism and caring under extreme situations. I want to personally thank all our public safety dispatchers in Inyo County for what they do.”
Originally introduced to Congress in 1991, and officially recognized in 1994, National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week is a time to honor and thank dispatchers with the Sheriff’s Department, Police Department and California Highway Patrol.
Last year, sheriff’s dispatchers alone handled thousands of emergency and disaster-related phone calls, as well as business and traffic calls.
In addition to notifying and briefing officers and deputies of emergencies and situations where residents need aid, local dispatchers are also responsible for initiating “reverse 911” phone calls through the CodeRED alert system to warn citizens of danger. Most notably, the CodeRed system was used to aid in evacuations during the 2011 Center Fire in Big Pine.
In addition to the Sheriff’s Department dispatchers, Bishop police dispatch also handles thousands of calls for police, fire or EMS services in the Bishop area, and, on the federal side, Owens Valley Interagency Communications Center dispatches for the Inyo National Forest and Bureau of Land Management Field Office, and is responsible for mobilizing resources in support emergencies both locally and nationally.
According to Inyo County Sheriff’s Public Information Officer Carma Roper, last year, Interagency dispatchers were called upon to send resources to incidents in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Montana, Nevada and other areas in California.
“Dispatchers are the vital link between the public and the services needed in an emergency,” Bishop Police Chief Chris Carter said, echoing Lutzes’ sentiments. “They have to be at the top of their game at all times.”
“The California Highway Patrol values our public safety dispatchers as an important link for our officers’ safety,” CHP Bishop Area Captain Andria Witmer said. “Without their dedicated service to provide coordination of resources and access to information, our officers would not be able to provide high quality service to the public.”
Witmer added that the entire Bishop office of the CHP “would like to use this week to salute all dispatchers as the unseen heroes of law enforcement.”

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